Why is an Asbestos Survey Important?

Why is an Asbestos Survey Important?Asbestos-containing materials are still present in many buildings as it was extensively used as an additive in building materials. There were a multitude of reasons for adding asbestos to building materials. Among these include both excellent heat resistance and insulating properties. As such, asbestos can be found in insulation, ceilings, flooring, guttering, sound-proofing and more.

However, it was found that certain types of asbestos, when aged or disturbed, released its microscopic fibres into the air. These, if inhaled or swallowed, could pose a serious health hazard in the future. As such, the use of asbestos was banned in the UK in 1999. Yet, as many buildings were constructed prior to the ban, there are still many buildings that contain asbestos. This is particularly true of buildings constructed before the year 2000.

Is an Asbestos Survey Necessary?

The purpose of an asbestos survey is to determine the risk that asbestos within a building may pose. As most old buildings, particularly those erected before 2000 contain asbestos in their structure; it makes sense to find out the amount and the condition of the asbestos-containing materials.

If the building owner is aware of the potential risks, he is then able to be proactive and ensure measures are put in place to manage these risks.

The best way in which to do this is to have an asbestos survey conducted on the building. An asbestos survey is not only a means to find out more about the possible risks, but it is also a legal requirement.

Asbestos Survey Types

The main purpose of an asbestos survey is to determine the location and the condition of the asbestos in a building. An asbestos survey can provide the necessary information, as well as guidance concerning the proper handling of the found asbestos and making sure that it does not pose a risk or threat to the occupants of the building.

There are two types of asbestos surveys. The first is the management survey. This survey notes the condition of any asbestos-containing materials and where it is so that it can be monitored.

The refurb/management survey is the second type of asbestos survey. It is a more extensive survey and is essential prior to any refurbishment and renovation work and demolition of an old building.

  • Management survey – it is typically a visual inspection that notes the condition of the asbestos-containing materials. It includes noting any possible risk of exposure during normal occupancy of the building. In addition, the management survey provides the necessary information required for an asbestos register and the asbestos management plan.
  • Refurb/demo survey – this survey is an essential (and mandatory) survey for any building that is due for refurbishment or demolition. As it is during construction or demolition that asbestos will be disturbed, this survey is extremely necessary. A far more detailed survey, it is also more intrusive and samples are likely to be taken. As such, the building must be vacated during this survey.

The Importance of an Asbestos Survey

Why is an Asbestos Survey Important?Exposure to asbestos fibres have been found to cause deadly disease and cancer. These fibres can cause permanent damage to the inner cells and outer lining of your lungs and chest wall. They are very small, strong and sharp.  In addition, they cannot be broken down by the human body. This can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis and pleural plaques.  People who have inhaled these fibres do not get ill immediately. It can take many years before these diseases develop.

An asbestos survey can help prevent exposure to airborne fibres and subsequent disease. The Control of Asbestos Regulations (2012) state that the duty holder of a building has a duty to manage the asbestos within the building. This means finding out the amount, the location and the condition of asbestos-containing materials there are and a plan put into place to manage them.

In addition, if the duty holder permits work to be completed on his building, or otherwise disturb any asbestos unknowingly, he is breaking the law as well as putting the health of the workers at risk.

The ‘Duty to Manage’ (Regulation 4) in the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 is intended for the safety of people who could be at risk of exposure to asbestos.

Only a Qualified and Authorised Surveyor Should Conduct an Asbestos Survey

As asbestos exposure is a huge risk, and because it often cannot be seen, it is imperative that a qualified, experienced and authorised surveyor conducts the asbestos survey. In addition, a qualified surveyor also has the experience and knowledge to ensure a comprehensive survey.

The HSE highly recommends using a competent surveyor for any asbestos survey on your building.  A competent surveyor is one who has:

  1. Survey knowledge, and knows the risks in surveying
  2. Has training, experience and is able to recognise his limitations
  3. Uses an effective quality management system
  4. Is able to demonstrate independence, impartiality and integrity
  5. will complete the asbestos survey in accordance with good practise guidance, as in HSG 264

If you are searching for a company that can provide the right asbestos survey specific to your building, we are available to assist. As experts in our field, we have the necessary knowledge, accreditations and experience to ensure that all surveys are safely and competently carried out.

Furthermore, our surveyors will provide a comprehensive and cost-effective asbestos survey with additional recommendations on the best course of action. Our professional, qualified team are available to assist you with any questions you may have regarding asbestos and the best type of asbestos survey for your building.

An asbestos survey is important. You can ensure the safety of the occupants of your building with the right asbestos survey for your particular needs. If you require further information, or would like to schedule an asbestos survey, please don’t hesitate to contact ACS at your convenience.